Let me preface this by saying things are far from good when it comes to the Chicago Bears. This is still a rebuilding team at least two years from serious contention. But after a close 23-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, maybe this team is not as far away as we once thought.

Jordan Howard was reliable as ever, Tarik Cohen amazed us on several separate occasions, and the defense looked even better than we thought. Heck, even Mike Glennon looked pretty good, especially at the end of the game. These are all generalizations though so let’s get into the meat of it.

Who balled out: DE Akiem Hicks and RB Tarik Cohen

Defensive end Akiem Hicks signed a 4-year extension worth $48 million with the Bears during the offseason, and against the Falcons the 27-year-old showed why he’s worth every dollar. Hicks was a force all day, recording two sacks and providing pressure  throughout the game. The Bears defense was a good unit last year, and with Hicks in for the long haul he could be apart of the next great unit.

On the flip side of the ball Tarik Cohen is Ryan Pace’s new late-round steal. Listed at just 5′ 6″ and 179 lbs Cohen wasn’t a great prospect coming out of North Carolina A&T, but Pace drafted him in the fourth round and it’s paying off already. Cohen, nicknamed “The Human Joystick”, ran wild and gave the Falcons headaches all day. Cohen had five carries for 66 yards, including a very impressive 46 yarder in which he turned a play that looked like nothing it would be a loss into a huge gain. Cohen also did damage in the passing game and was Mike Glennon’s favorite target all day, hauling in eight of his twelve targets for 47 yards and a touchdown. Obviously it would be silly to expect this kind of production from Cohen each week, especially as Glennon builds chemistry with the rest of the receiving corps, but it’s a great sign for the season that Ryan Pace has found yet another valuable late round pick.

Needs Improvement: The Receiving Corps

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Kevin White is out for the season with a serious injury. Now, this is still a real person we’re talking about and it’s a damn shame to see Kevin White go down again, that’s important to remember.

But from a football standpoint this is another big blow to an already thin Bears’ receiving group. In the span of two weeks Chicago has lost its top two receivers in Cameron Meredith and now White. This leaves Mike Glennon with very few options week-to-week. Kendall Wright now becomes the no. 1 receiver and Zach Miller becomes the top receiving target. How Ryan Pace addresses this problem will be an important storyline to watch over the next couple of weeks.

First and foremost what’s the reaction move to White’s injury? Does preseason favorite Tanner Gentry get brought back? Or maybe even Victor Cruz gets another shot?

If Ryan Pace wants to take a home run swing there is one potential solution. Trade for Jarvis Landry. Landry is one of the most talented and reliable receivers in football, having accumulated well over 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons. Just 24-years-old, Landry is set to become a free agent following this season. Now, his impending free agency should not deter Pace from making the move, as it would be a move made with the intention of re-signing Landry either during the season or immediately following it.

Trading for Landry improves the team immediately while also keeping eyes on the future. It gives Glennon a reliable target and a clear top receiver, while an extension would help the future Bears. Can you imagine a team led by Mitch Trubisky throwing passes to Jarvis Landry, Cam Meredith, and Adam Shaheen? With Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen on the ground? Not a bad picture. A blogger can dream I guess.

Mike Glennon Analysis of the Week

Let’s all be honest with each other here. No one, not even yours truly, thought Glennon looked good through 3 quarters of play. He looked timid, unwilling to push the ball, and relied on Howard/Cohen to bail him as well as carry the offense. But when it came to crunch time Glennon stepped up and made some big-boy throws. Especially on his last two drives, one a scoring drive in response to a Falcons touchdown, and the second a very very near game-winning drive. Glennon took the Bears down to the six yard line and had 4 legitimate chances to win the game for Chicago. Obviously that didn’t happen, but Glennon stood tall (although he already is quite tall) in the face of pressure and nearly led his team to victory. While he’s faced some unfair (and some fair) criticism up to this point, Glennon had some impressive moments in week 1, and it will be interesting to see how he responds in week 2.

All In All…

The Bears looked good in week 1. Some final notes around the roster

  • Leonard Floyd showed improved coverage skills and looks like a true star in the making.
  • Cohen and Howard will be relied upon heavily this season, they’re perfect compliments.
  • Tight ends Zach Miller and Dion Sims were both prevalent in the passing game and did well, but with White down for the season, it’s time to get Adam Shaheen some looks too. He’s a gifted receiver and route runner.
  • It appears that Eddie Jackson and Quintin Demps are the safeties for now. Both played alright on Sunday but didn’t shine. Their test continues with Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, and Desean Jackson in week 2.
  • Kyle Fuller played well in week 1. He led the secondary in tackles with six and was one of four players with a pass defensed. After having his fifth year option declined the former 14th pick has something to prove this year.
  • We’re not going to see Mitchell Trubisky for a while folks, so stop asking. Let Glennon grow and build on a decent week 1, watch the young guys grow and become solid players that will contribute to the next great Bears team. The Bears aren’t going anywhere this season anyway.
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